Only the Brave (2017 film)

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Only the Brave
Only the Brave (2017 film).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Joseph Kosinski[1]
Produced by
Written by
Based on GQ article "No Exit"
by Sean Flynn[2]
Music by Joseph Trapanese
Cinematography Claudio Miranda
Edited by Billy Fox
Distributed by
Release date
  • October 8, 2017 (2017-10-08) (Los Angeles)
  • October 20, 2017 (2017-10-20) (United States)
Running time
133 minutes[4]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $38 million[5]
Box office $25.4 million[5]

Only the Brave is a 2017 American biographical drama film directed by Joseph Kosinski and written by Ken Nolan and Eric Warren Singer, based on the GQ article "No Exit" by Sean Flynn.[2] The film tells the story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots,[1] an elite crew of firefighters who lost 19 of 20 members while fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire in June 2013, and is dedicated to their memory. It features an ensemble cast, including Josh Brolin, James Badge Dale, Jeff Bridges, Miles Teller, Alex Russell, Taylor Kitsch, Ben Hardy, Thad Luckinbill, Geoff Stults, Scott Haze, Andie MacDowell and Jennifer Connelly.

Principal photography began in New Mexico in June 2016. Only the Brave was released in the United States by Columbia Pictures on October 20, 2017. It received positive reviews from critics, with praise aimed at the cast and the film's touching tribute to its subjects.[6]


Eric Marsh, superintendent of Fire and Rescue Crew 7 in Prescott, Arizona, receives a call to the Cave Creek Complex Wildfire. Due to Crew 7's status as municipal firefighters, Eric's prediction that the fire will threaten a nearby neighborhood is ignored by a hotshot crew from California. The fire behaves as Eric anticipated and the neighborhood is destroyed.

Eric's wife Amanda suggests he talk to Duane Steinbrink, the city fire chief, to complete Crew 7's certification as wildfire hotshots. Duane warns that the crew will now have to commit to a longer working season. This frustrates Amanda, who resents how the time commitment already keeps Eric from wanting to start a family.

Brendan McDonough is unemployed, listless and abuses drugs. His ex-girlfriend Natalie is pregnant with his baby, but she feels he is too irresponsible to be in her life. When he gets arrested for larceny, his mother kicks him out of the house. When his daughter is born, he wants to provide for her, so he interviews with Eric, who hires him despite the reservations of some of the crew.

The crew trains hard, finally being deployed to a wildfire for evaluation. They pass and become the Granite Mountain Hotshots. Natalie begins to accept Brendan and lets him spend time with their daughter.

The crew fights several fires, including saving a historic juniper tree, but Brendan is bitten by a rattlesnake while walking a fire line. While he recovers in hospital, his mother suggests that Brendan reconsider his dangerous career for his daughter's sake. Brendan later approaches Eric about transferring to a standard municipal fire hall, structure fire crew. Eric erupts, suggesting Brendan’s criminal past makes a transfer nearly impossible, and that he will return to drugs without the purpose being a hotshot provides.

Eric and Amanda argue about Eric's attitude about Brendan's sense of priorities and his own reluctance to start a family. Eric has a heartfelt talk with Duane, then returns home and tells Amanda he's ready to start a family.

The Granite Mountain Hotshots are called to the Yarnell Hill Fire, 30 Miles from Prescott. Driving to the area, Eric tells his second-in-command Jesse that he will be stepping down and will recommend Jesse as superintendent. Walking into the fire zone, Eric tells Brendan that he will help him secure a transfer so he can spend more time with his family.

The crew begins a controlled burn to contain the fire, but an air tanker mistakes it for a secondary fire and extinguishes it. The crew is forced to relocate, so Eric sends Brendan to higher ground as a lookout. When the wind suddenly shifts, Brendan is rescued by another hotshot crew, and they evacuate to the mobile fire headquarters. The rest of the Granite Mountain Hotshots head to a designated safe zone.

The fire picks up speed and jumps the safe zone, continuing towards the Granite Mountain Hotshots. The crew clears a small site and Eric calls in an air tanker to douse them. The tanker misses the crew, and they deploy their compact personal fire shelters. As the fire sweeps over the crew, multiple radio calls go unanswered. Brendan hears the radio call from the first helicopter to reach the site – all 19 are dead.

The families gather at a Prescott school gymnasium. Word arrives that someone survived, but no information on who. When Brendan arrives at the gymnasium, 19 families instantly know that their loved ones are dead.

Three years later, Brendan takes his daughter to the juniper tree that was saved by the crew. During the credits, photos are shown of the actual Granite Mountain Hotshots.


The Granite Mountain Hotshots
  • Josh Brolin as Eric Marsh
  • Miles Teller as Brendan McDonough
  • James Badge Dale as Jesse Steed
  • Taylor Kitsch as Christopher MacKenzie
  • Geoff Stults as Travis Turbyfill
  • Alex Russell as Andrew Ashcraft
  • Thad Luckinbill as Scott Norris
  • Ben Hardy as Wade Parker
  • Scott Haze as Clayton Whitted
  • Jake Picking as Anthony Rose
  • Scott Foxx as Travis Carter
  • Dylan Kenin as Robert Caldwell
  • Ryan Busch as Dustin DeFord
  • Kenny Miller as Sean Misner
  • Ryan Jason Cook as William Warneke
  • Brandon Bunch as Garret Zuppiger
  • Matthew Van Wettering as Joe Thurston
  • Michael McNulty as Kevin Woyjeck
  • Nicholas Jenks as John Percin, Jr.
  • Sam Quinn as Grant McKee



On March 1, 2016, Josh Brolin and Miles Teller joined the cast of the film.[7] Jeff Bridges and Taylor Kitsch later also joined the cast.[8] The film was produced under the working title Granite Mountain.

Principal photography on the film began in New Mexico on June 13, 2016. Filming took place at different locations in and around Santa Fe and Los Alamos.[9][10][11]


Joseph Trapanese composed the film's score. Dierks Bentley released a single called "Hold The Light", featuring S. Carey. The single and the music video was released on October 6, 2017.[12]


Only the Brave, originally titled Granite Mountain, was released on October 20, 2017, by Sony Pictures Releasing under its Columbia Pictures label. Before that the film was set a release date for September 22, 2017, but a disagreement between Lionsgate and production company Black Label Media saw the U.S. distribution rights change to Columbia Pictures.[13] Summit Entertainment will retain international rights in select countries for the film.[14] The trailer came out on July 19, and the film was retitled Only the Brave.[15]

Home media[edit]

Only The Brave was released digitally on January 23, 2018, and on DVD and Blu-ray on February 6, 2018.


Box office[edit]

Only the Brave grossed $18.3 million in the United States and Canada, and $7 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $25.4 million, against a production budget of $38 million.[5]

In the United States and Canada, Only the Brave was released alongside Boo 2! A Madea Halloween, The Snowman and Geostorm, and was expected to gross around $7 million from 2,575 theaters in its opening weekend.[16] It made $305,000 from Thursday night previews and $2.1 million on its first day. It ended up debuting to $6 million, finishing 5th at the box office.[17] In its second week the film dropped 42.5% to $3.4 million, finishing 7th.[18]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 87% based on 141 reviews, with an average rating of 7/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Only the Brave's impressive veteran cast and affecting fact-based story add up to a no-frills drama that's just as stolidly powerful as the real-life heroes it honors."[19] On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating to reviews, the film has a weighted average score of 72 out of 100, based on 35 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[20] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.[17]

Bilge Ebiri of Village Voice wrote, "Only the Brave is a visually splendid, spellbinding, and surreal movie that also happens to be an emotionally shattering, over-the-top ugly-cry for the ages."[21] Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter called the film "an engaging account of a tragic real-life story."[22]

Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 3.5 out of 4 stars, saying: "The blending of practical effects and CGI is impressive, and we come to understand the risks these men are taking, but some of the techniques and approaches they take remain a mystery, up to and through the climactic fire. Not that we need a manual to understand these men were working-class, everyday heroes."[23] Scott Menzel of We Live Entertainment, also praised the film, saying, "Only the Brave is without question the best firefighter film since Backdraft and one that pays tribute to the brave men that sacrificed their own lives to protect thousands of others."[24]


List of awards and nominations
Award Date of ceremony Category Recipients Result Ref.
Visual Effects Society Awards February 13, 2018 Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature Eric Barba, Dione Wood, Matthew Lane, Georg Kaltenbrunner, Michael Meinardus Nominated [25]
Outstanding Effects Simulations in a Photoreal Feature Georg Kaltenbrunner, Thomas Bevan, Philipp Zaufel, Himanshu Joshi for "Fire and Smoke" Nominated


  1. ^ a b Charliedavid Page (18 November 2017). "SWITCH. | Film review: Only The Brave - True story of tragedy handled with respect and authenticity". SWITCH. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  2. ^ a b Flynn, Sean (September 27, 2013). "No Exit: The GQ Story That Inspired Only the Brave". GQ. Retrieved August 27, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c "Film releases". Variety Insight. Retrieved January 13, 2017.
  4. ^ "Only The Brave (2017)". British Board of Film Classification.
  5. ^ a b c "Only the Brave (2017)". Box Office Mojo. Amazon. Retrieved August 27, 2018.
  6. ^ Giles, Jeff (October 19, 2017). "Only the Brave Is a Powerful Tribute". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved October 20, 2017.
  7. ^ Kroll, Justin (March 1, 2016). "Josh Brolin and Miles Teller to Star in Firefighter Action Movie 'No Exit' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved May 21, 2016.
  8. ^ Kroll, Justin (May 20, 2016). "Jeff Bridges, Taylor Kitsch Join Josh Brolin-Miles Teller Firefighter Film (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved May 21, 2016.
  9. ^ Higdon, Marissa (June 10, 2016). ""Granite Mountain" starring Josh Brolin tells the story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots - Albuquerque Business First". Albuquerque Business First. Retrieved June 12, 2016.
  10. ^ Goodykoontz, Bill (June 9, 2016). "'Granite Mountain,' movie version of fallen Yarnell firefighters' story, to begin production". AZCentral. Retrieved June 12, 2016.
  11. ^ ""Granite Mountain" to Film in New Mexico". June 10, 2016. Retrieved June 12, 2016.
  12. ^ "Dierks Bentley ft. S. Carey Hold The Light (From "Only The Brave" Soundtrack) (Official Video)". Vevo.
  13. ^ Pedersen, Erik (June 7, 2016). "Lionsgate Dates 'Granite Mountain', 'Wonder' & 'How To Be A Latin Lover' For 2017". Deadline. Retrieved June 8, 2016.
  14. ^ McNary, Dave (April 24, 2017). "'Sicario' Sequel, 'Granite Mountain' Move From Lionsgate to Sony". Variety. Retrieved April 24, 2017.
  15. ^ Goldberg, Matt (July 19, 2017). "'Only the Brave': First Trailer Has Josh Brolin Leading an Elite Team of Firefighters". Collider. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
  16. ^ Anthony D'Alessandro (October 18, 2017). "Boo 2!' To Shut Down Expensive 'Geostorm' In Crowded Weekend – Box Office Preview". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved October 18, 2017.
  17. ^ a b Anthony D'Alessandro. "'Boo 2! A Madea Halloween' Reaps $21M+ During October Dumping Ground At The B.O." Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved October 22, 2017.
  18. ^ Anthony D'Alessandro. "Horror Has Few Scares At B.O. As 'Jigsaw' Dulls To $16M+, 'Suburbicon' Condemned With D- CinemaScore". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved October 29, 2017.
  19. ^ "Only the Brave (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
  20. ^ "Only the Brave Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved November 23, 2017.
  21. ^ ""Only the Brave" Is One Big, Manly, Beautiful Ugly-Cry". Village Voice. October 11, 2017. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
  22. ^ "'Only the Brave': Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. October 11, 2017. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
  23. ^ Roeper, Richard (October 18, 2017). "'Only the Brave' lays out the humanity of its firefighting heroes". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved October 20, 2017.
  24. ^ "'Only The Brave' Review: Bravery Done Right". We Live Entertainment. October 11, 2017. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
  25. ^ Giardina, Carolyn (January 16, 2018). "Visual Effects Society Awards: 'Apes,' 'Blade Runner 2049' Lead Feature Nominees". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 16, 2018.

External links[edit]